Hinduism is one of the ancient regions that has survived into modern times. It is a collection of traditions that have developed at least 5000 years ago in the Indus Valley region. It is said that there is no single prophet, founder or initial teacher of Hinduism. Also referred to as ‘Sanatana Dharma,’ Hindu is the word used by the Persians in the 6th century BCE to define people living in the Indus valley.
According to Hindu scriptures, those who lead an ascetic life or renounce the world have no obligations and duties. In the pursuit of liberation, they may practice the spirituality of their self-transformation. However, those who have taken up grihastha (household) life have to perform many duties and obligations.
The following are the 10 major duties of Dharma in the Hinduism.
1. Duties towards Self
This duty refers to the duties performed towards the soul, mind and the body. These duties lead to purity, mental clarity, health, strength as well as spiritual transformation. The main purpose of these duties is to maintain and improve one’s own spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing.
The holy Bhagwatgita stated that an individual should uplit itself and should not debase oneself because it is self that is one’s own companion and the enemy. It means that you are your own friend when you are on the right path and you are your worst enemy when you involve in any evil action. However, householders not only lead lives world, but they have to work for their own liberation.
2. Duty towards Gods
In Hinduism, it is believed that Gods (Devas) prevail in the body as organs. Since they do not make food for themselves and are selfless, so human beings are obliged to perform these duties and make offerings of food to them. It is important to nourish your gods within you with good food and thoughts through your sacrifices and conduct.
3. Duty towards Ancestors
Your ancestors are responsible for your existence and gene pool. Therefore, every individual owes them a debt of gratitude. As per the Vedas, after demise, the souls live in their ancestral world until their karma is completed. So by doing good deeds, performing rituals, offering food to God, and living virtuously, their descendants can stay longer and better lives in their next birth. Pitryajna, the sacrifice to ancestors are declared as the duty of human beings towards their ancestors. If the ancestors are happy, they will bless you and help you get peace and prosperity while you live.
4. Duty towards Progeny
Hindu work for the welfare of their progeny from the ancient time. Parents have an obligation to perform different sacraments for their children. Starting from educating them, teach them, inculcate good values, and help them become a valuable individual. Even at the time of death, they are expected to pass their qualities, strength and good name to their children. As a Hindu, these are the moral duties every parent has to perform.
5. Duties towards other Human Beings
Hindus are not expected to live in their own. Their power, life, identity, riches, enjoyments and all come from God. Therefore, charity (dana) in Hinduism is considered as one of the highest virtues. Hindus have an obligation to help needy and poor people like mendicants, monks, disables, the weak and the beggars, especially who can’t cook food for themselves. They are also expected to serve the guests who visit their homes.
6. Moral Duties
Every human has an obligation in Hinduism to uphold Divine law and practice virtue. They have to follow the injunctions and guidelines in the scriptures and cultivate discernment (buddhi) and purity (sattva). Some moral duties in Hinduism are worship, devotion, follow the guidelines and injunctions prescribed in the scriptures, self-restraint, purity, good works, sacrifices, prayers and practice virtues like non-stealing, non-covetousness, celibacy before marriage, non-violence, and truthfulness. Other duties like respecting teachers, parents and elders.
7. Duties towards other Faiths
In Hinduism, it is a duty of Hindus to practice their faith. They are expected to show friendliness and restraints in dealing with people of other faiths. As a Hindu, you can defend your faith. If required, you can fight with the demons as a warrior.
8. Duties towards Society
Hindus are not expected to disturb or destroy the institutions of community, caste, family or tradition. According to Hindu scriptures, whenever evil is on the side and society is in decline, God himself manifests upon the earth in order to restore Dharma.
9. Duty towards other Living Beings
Hindus have an obligation to practice nonviolence, avoid harming and hurting anyone and show compassion to all living beings. Hinduism is the only religion where animals are traditionally worshipped. Many Gods and Goddesses either use animals as their vehicles or have animal features and forms. In the Vedas, it has been said that like the humans are to Gods, the cattle are to humans.
10. Professional Caste Duties
Hindus are obliged to perform certain responsibilities and duties that come with caste, authority, power and position. For instance, each caste and related profession entail certain duties and obligations upon its members. Those who have become a spiritual teacher have to spread knowledge of Dharma and live virtuously.